Local Charity Opens the World of Books for Seeing and Blind Children Alike

 |  November 13, 2018

Founded eight years ago in Bangkok by blind bookaholic Yoshimi Horiuchi, the Bookworm Caravan Foundation aims to promote the joy of reading and provide equal education opportunities for children and adults from various backgrounds. Since 2012, we have run Rang Mai Community Library in Phrao District, Chiang Mai Province. With its ever-growing stock of books and DVDs, the library is a welcoming place to read and learn for children and adults from Phrao and surrounding communities. Here we also provide Wi-Fi access as well as crafts and cooking activities for children on the weekends. Our mobile library based in a truck goes to schools and temples in the area, swapping new books to small library corners there and visiting individuals who want to enjoy reading but don’t have the ability to come to the library.

In our current project called “Bumpy Books”, we want to create an Universal Design Picture Book for both sighted and visually impaired children. There have been hundreds of attempts to create tactile books for the blind: Most of them use special ink or technique to form plastic sheets that are used to create the tactile features, making it possible to produce them in big quantities. However, they are not intended to be colourful, and are black and white or even simply grey. Others are crafted individually and made from natural materials, which make them nicer to touch, but often inaccessibly expensive. As far as we know, no organization has tried to create hand-crafted Universal Design Picture Books, meant to entertain and engage disabled and non-disabled children likewise, at an affordable price for children and parents around the world.

That is where the Bumpy Books Project starts. Hand-made and crafted with locally available materials, our book is filled with colorful illustrated pictures, enriched with a variety of tactile features so that they can also be explored by touch. As we use many natural materials such as tree barks, dried leaves or small stones, trees feel like real trees and seashells like seashells, mountains have a gravelly and massive shape and birds a feathery texture. The story is told in small dialogues, printed both in Braille and enlarged letters. The Bumpy Book is designated as medium of entertainment as much as learning imagination and motor skills. Furthermore, it can be used to bridge the gap between children with and without disabilities.

Our goal is to produce 200 copies with the help of volunteers until December 2019. One half will be distributed to schools and institutions for children with disabilities in Thailand. The other 100 copies will be printed in English and German and sold to organizations and individuals in Europe or America, enabling us to produce the next 200 copies from their income.

Please visit us at Citylife Garden Fair 2018 to get a literal hands-on of our first prototype. You can also learn to read and write Braille or become a part of our production team in our Bumpy Books interactive session, where we show you how to create the protagonists of our story, and much more. We would be happy to meet you!

Read Citylife’s story about the bookworm Caravan Foundation and its founder Yoshimi Horiuchi.